After Citizens United: How Outside Spending Shapes American Democracy

75 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2016 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018

Nour Abdul-Razzak

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

Carlo Prato

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Stephane Wolton

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government

Date Written: April 17, 2018

Abstract

We study the political consequences of lifting bans on contributions from corporations and unions to groups engaging in outside spending (independent political advertising in elections). We propose a model of electoral competition in which outside spending changes the salience of candidate-specific attributes relative to party labels. Empirically, we employ a differences-in-differences design using federally mandated changes to state regulations following recent judicial rulings in Citizens United and FEC v. SpeechNow.org. We find strong evidence that removing bans on the funding of outside spending increases the electoral success of Republican candidates and leads to ideologically more conservative state legislatures. We do not find evidence of an effect on ideological polarization and targeted public good provision. We document that the effect of outside spending depends on the local balance of power between corporate and labor interests.

Keywords: Outside Spending, Citizens United, Interest Groups, Polarization

JEL Classification: D70, D72, D78

Suggested Citation

Abdul-Razzak, Nour and Prato, Carlo and Wolton, Stephane, After Citizens United: How Outside Spending Shapes American Democracy (April 17, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2823778 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2823778

Nour Abdul-Razzak (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Carlo Prato

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Stephane Wolton

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Government ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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